Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Every musician who has ever existed has a California song, whether it's explicit or whether it's implied in different ways. It's that land of friendly scenery, promise and natural vitamin C that makes everyone think of it as a glorious fountain of youth and success. There's a burnt in longing for that place - even if one's never been there - and there's an unavoidable emptiness when one's been torn from it or been gone from it for longer than would be ideal. It holds sway and serve, seducing minds and eyes for lifetimes it seems, a preoccupation that just continues resounding and mesmerizing, luring people to the salty surf, the silver screen's foothills and to a place where there's bottomless urgency and a romantic notion of the good life that doesn't die down. Colin Hay has lived in California for a number of years now, while still keeping a home back in his homeland of Australia, but he's found that he's been swept into all of these feelings of unbridled charm of the place where the wine's thick like a fog and the waters are chilled appropriately with lust. Hay seems to dig into such sentiments that cannot be touched by hands. He paints landscapes of such beauty, making them sound instantly nostalgic and wonderfully melancholic. He makes happiness into something like sadness that you still want to be around, that you still want to experience. On "American Sunshine," the former Men At Work lead singer and the holder of one of the most signature voices in the world, makes a wonderful album full of validated observances and experiences that are spot-on and influenced by a toasty mind that just keeps running to all of the scenic overhangs, looking over the edge and getting awestruck. Hay is a consummate songwriter, who's only gotten better and better with age, mellowing into a folky balladeer without many peers. He sings on "Oh California," "Yeah, it's the one big love that you cannot end," and it comes across as a message about the abundance of a heart that's getting acted on, that's doing some shifting and acting of its own. He later sings about living for Friday nights and how, " old habits die hard when you get them right," and it seems that habits can be done right, that Hay's habit of finding the nuances of the human experience so captivating and engrossing is something that he's been known to do right. He taps into these feelings of exuberance and loneliness and treats them with the same exalted tones, the same glimmer of dreaminess and sullenness. He takes us into these moods of such characteristic gloom, laced with what he'd call out as the loveliness that keeps it all together.
Colin Hay Official Site